Monthly Archives: July 2015

Looks a bit like “Lost Girl” and World of Darkness teamed up for an AWE game.

Urban Shadows is an urban fantasy tabletop roleplaying game in which mortals and monsters vie for control of a modern-day city, a political battleground layered just under the reality we think we know. Vampires, faeries, hunters, and wizards fight to carve out a piece of the streets and skyscrapers, ready to make deals with all those who have something to offer. 

Here’s what you’ll find inside this book:

  • Ten unique character Archetypes spread across four supernatural Factions, each carefully tuned to put characters at the center of awesome stories.
  • Clearly-defined mechanics that push the fiction forward every time a player rolls the dice, advancing your group’s story at every turn.
  • Detailed instructions for the Master of Ceremonies, the player in charge of running the game and portraying the political machination of the powers-that-be.
  • Easy-to-follow rules for creating custom settings, cities, and mechanics to make your game of Urban Shadows all your own!

Urban Shadows makes use of the same rules-light engine as Apocalypse World, Monsterhearts, and Dungeon World—while drawing on fiction as diverse as The Wire, The Dresden Files, and The Shield—to create a game of urban politics and supernatural drama. Packed with mechanics that create hard choices and meaningful fiction, this game is easy for new players to learn and complex enough to play again and again. 

With me leaving for Gen Con in a couple of days, it seemed more than appropriate to point yet another foundation product of the entire hobby that is finally officially available in PDF. The Dungeon Master’s Guide for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AKA “1st Edition”) changed everything about our gaming culture when it first came out. Sure, it provided the core combat and related rules for playing the game outside of the boundaries of Basic D&D, but it also laid the groundwork for a much expanded gaming experience; we began discovering the nearly-infinite other ways to play an RPG.

A Different Sort of Dungeon Masters Guide. The contents of the 1e Dungeon Masters Guide would probably surprise a modern player of D&D. That’s because more recent Dungeon Master’s Guides have become books about how to run D&D, while the original Dungeon Masters Guide was instead the system’s core rulebook.

To be precise, the first edition Dungeon Masters Guide contained all of the rules for the AD&D game except for those related to character creation — and Gygax drew that line very strictly. The Players Handbook (1978) included information on abilities, classes, and races, but the Dungeon Masters Guide contained many of the actual rules for those game elements. If you wanted to know how to roll your characteristics, how to turn undead, how to hit a monster, or how to save a throw, those rules were here!

This split resulted in a somewhat unusual organization for the Dungeon Masters Guide. The first 50 page or so exactly mirror the organization of the Players Handbook, with each section filling in the rules systems that hadn’t been included in the previous volume. Only after that did the Dungeon Masters Guide fully embrace the dungeon mastering side of the game, with rules for combat and discussions of adventures, NPCs, and other favorites like magic items. The result is a real mish-mash that feels more like a random assortment of articles than a coherent rule book.

Figuring out what’s where in the Dungeon Masters Guide is one of the most challenging parts of AD&D 1e play, because the book is full of tiny tidbits of information, often hidden in the most unusual places. Perhaps this was all an intentional part of the design, as the Dungeon Masters Guide does say that it’s a “compiled volume”. So consider it the “AD&D Omnibus”.

What a Difference an Edition Makes. The AD&D Monster Manual (1977) and Players Handbook (1978) both expanded the OD&D (1974) game without rebooted it. They revised the rules to improve specificity and increase details without fundamentally changing the game systems.

To a large extent, the Dungeon Masters Guide is more of the same, with its emphasis on updating characters, combat, experience, and magic items. However, there are some notable changes in these systems.

  1. Characters are better. This is the result of changes to the ability score generation method. In OD&D, players rolled 3d6, in order, for their characteristics. In AD&D the least generous system has players rolling 4d6 for their characteristics and throwing out the worst number, then arranging the numbers as they see fit. The result shows two big changes in how D&D was being played: characters are more powerful and players are getting more choice over what they play.
  2. Combat is expanded (to over 20 pages!). A segmented combat system helps spells to better interweave with melee. Theoretically this is modified by weapon speed and even by a comparison of weapon vs armor type, but the complexity of the AD&D combat system was sufficient that many GMs left out many of its subsystems. This was also the case for AD&D’s new unarmed combat systems, which most found too complex to use.
  3. Everything is detailed with unusual one-off rules. Every time you turn a couple of pages in the Dungeon Masters Guide, you’ll find a rule that most 1e GMs probably don’t use and don’t even know about. Adjustments for pursuit and evasion based on party size? Special AC rules for unhelmeted characters? Organizational suggestions for monsters? Insanity lists? Intoxication effects and recovery? Government forms? Infravision that causes the eyes to glow bright red? It’s all here.

“Winter is coming.”

Not really, unless you’re south of the equator, but I couldn’t resist. DriveThruRPG has their annual and highly-popular Christmas in July sale going on, starting today, and every gamer will want to look at what’s on sale. This year, they have quite a selection of Print-on-Demand products at 15% off, as well as the usual huge assortment of PDFs at 25% off.

Seriously, the selection is insane. Here’s just a few of the publishers represented:

  • AEG
  • Ad Infinitum Adventures
  • Cubicle 7 Entertainment
  • Dreamscarred Press
  • FASA
  • Holistic Design
  • Margaret Weis Productions
  • Monte Cook Games
  • Onyx Path Publishing

And dozens more!

It does seem to be a great time to explore lots of new worlds with endless possibilities and infinite threats. The Strange is a Cypher-driven game that takes players all over time and space and potential realities, which is both fantastic and potentially maddening for any GM who doesn’t have all the time in the world to develop the myriad of multi-existences to explore.

Here’s your life raft.

Witch covens battle in the mammoth city of Halloween. Nazis struggle to master mythological relics in the Eleventh Reich. T. rexes hunt hominids on the tropical island of Mesozoica, while skyships fend off pirates and predators in the tempestuous cloud seas of Seishin Shore.

In The Strange, recursions—limited pocket dimensions with their own laws of reality—are seeded from human fiction and mythology. A recursor might discover Atlantis, Oz, the Victorian London of Sherlock Holmes, or places even more bizarre and perilous. Worlds Numberless and Strange takes you to dozens of new recursions, where supervillains, dinosaurs, space troopers, killer robots, gods, and other dangers guard wonders and treasures few people on Earth have ever seen!

Worlds Numberless and Strange includes:

  • Nearly 70 new recursions
  • Expanded information on locations, plots, and NPCs of Ardeyn and Ruk
  • Plenty of new artifacts, adventure hooks, and other intriguing details
  • The Implausible Geographical Society, a new secret organization of explorers
  • New creatures for game masters
  • New character options for players, including foci like Inks Spells on Skin and Quells Undead
  • Tips on incorporating your favorite fiction and game worlds into The Strange

As I’ve explained before, I am on the Board of Directors for the RPG Creators Relief Fund, a charity specifically designed to provide financial support for fellow creators (designers, writers, artists, editors, etc.) who have emergency needs or fall into hard times.

Today, we launched a very special charity bundle. The theme is a Game Master Care Package, with a ton of material to help any GM running games. We timed this with the impending opening of Gen Con 2015, and we hope we can get all of you excited to not only grab a ton of great product for massive discount (and, of course, share with your GM), but to also support this worthy cause of getting our fund up-and-running to ensure the great creators of your favorite stuff have the help and support they need when the time comes.

Here’s just a short set of examples of some of the products included:

  • Colonial Gothic: The Lost Colony
  • Dangerous Games, novel by Matt Forbeck
  • Entropic Game System
  • Savage Worlds Deluxe
  • Shaintar: Legends Arise
  • The Strange: The Dark Spiral
  • The Victory System
  • Torn Asunder: Critical Hits PFRPG Version

The Roleplaying Game Creators’ Relief Fund, a charity established by gamers to help game creators in need so they can continue to create great games for all of us, is proud to announce its first major charity gaming bundle on DriveThruRPG! The bundle includes over $200 worth of gaming PDFs and is available for only $20! All money received goes into the RCRF’s coffers to help it perform its mission of assisting game creators who have suffered medical or other emergencies.

Intensely dark survival horror or epic hero action in an alt-history Renaissance era, all expertly crafted and exquisitely presented by Italian game developer GG studio. Look for more awesomeness from these folks in the future, trust me. 😉

Oh, you gotta act soon if you want to get it at the special introductory price of $9.90.

At the end of the Middle Ages, the Plague of the Dead has spread through Europe, Africa and Asia giving rise to the darkest time in history. Now, in the year 1515, heroes from the New Kingdoms are ready to fight to reconquer the World. Ultima Forsan is a game of wild adventures and deadly dangers, set in a macabre alternate version of our Renaissance.

Inside Ultima Forsan Setting Book you can find:

  • A new Savage Worlds Setting, made of grim horrors and indomitable heroes
  • Two double-page maps: Macabre Lucca and the New Kingdoms of the West
  • New Edges, Arcane Backgrounds and Rules to face the Plague Hordes
  • Special weapons, augmented armors and mechanical prosthesis to fight the Macabre War
  • The Secret of Marco Polo: a complete campaign ready to play
  • More than thirty new, frightening monsters, plus dozens of animals, human characters and Wild Cards
  • An adventure generator that will allow you to create an infinite number of adventures for your Heroes
  • A scalable lethality level, allowing you to play the way you prefer, from lethal survival horror to epic action and heroism




If you’ve not been watching Wil Wheaton’s Geek and Sundry web series, you’ve been missing out on one of the biggest and coolest things happening in our hobby. Big kudos to Chris PramasNicole Lindroos, and the rest of the Green Ronin team for a great game and a great achievement in geek history.

The Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook is your entry point to tabletop roleplaying. Now you can be the hero in your own sword and sorcery adventures!

This is the game played on Wil Wheaton’s new tabletop RPG show, Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana

The Adventure Game Engine (AGE) rules are easy to learn, and feature an innovative stunt system that keeps the action tense and exciting. This Basic Rulebook includes full 20 level advancement for all three classes, a new magic system, advice for players and GMs, and an introductory adventure so you can get started right away. You can use Fantasy AGE to run adventures in the campaign setting of your choice or a world of your own creation. A new AGE is upon us!

Another day to point out something that may not otherwise make it on your radar. There are precious few examples of what I would call “dieselpunk” settings and content for RPGs, so this project deserves a look for you Savage Worlds fans. Anyone else interested in the genre, for that matter.

A frontier land largely at the mercy of the savage Wulvers since the end of the Great Darmonican War, barely enough soldiers left to defend the rump of the Commonwealth’s once extensive colonial holdings. With many towns cut off and large swathes of territory overrun by the beasts the safest form of transport is by air, but the breakdown in law and order as given rise to scoundrels like sky pirates and bandits.
Alyeska’s frozen skies are increasingly becoming a dangerous place to be.
This primer gives an overview of heart of the Frozen Skies setting; The Continent of Alyeska.
In addition it offers a brief guide to the Commonwealth and its main factions in Alyeska, Wulvers and their stats along with a selection of gear to allow you to start playing in the Frozen Skies setting.

My dear friend, Sheena Colbath (the fantastic human at the heart of the most excellent ChupacabraCon), enters the world of professional game writing and design with her adventure, Escape from the Lazurite Mines. She’s also one of the folks who helped design the new Universal Pool System for D3 Games. Welcome to the club, Sheena!

Goryn has suffered from bandits for too long. Baron Kridlare has had enough! But when his own soldiers fight a much fiercer and more organized group of bandits, they need help. The party arrives and heads to the heart of the problem, the village of Dustra. Can they stop the most recent illegal activity and find the leader of this group?

Utilizing the new Universal Pool System by D3 Adventures, your gaming group will embark on a new adventure. This includes five heroes with complete character sheets and quick start rules for the Universal Pool System. It is time to grab your dice and seek glory in an easy to learn and fun to play game system!